Episkeptomai is the original word in the Greek New Testament from which our English translators have rendered “visit.” The Greek lexicons reveal a meaning of this word which is usually not considered in the English. Vine says it means “[primarily] to inspect…[signifies] to visit with help.” Thayer concurs, “to look upon in order to help.” This meaning is also made clear in the Scriptures. Luke 1:68 states, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people.” By this, since God gave us Jesus in order to redeem man, we learn that New Testament visiting has to do with looking upon and coming to help. The same sentiment is expressed in Acts 15:36 when Paul was desirous to make a return visit to every city in which he had established a church to see how they fared. Thus, as we read about visiting in the New Testament, it needs to be understood that mere social visits are not necessarily that which is enjoined, but rather a visit with the intention of rendering help in some way. As we meditate day and night upon this thought and those thoughts that follow, we will help ourselves to be the kind of visitor God would have us to be.
Visiting is indeed important. Actually, it’s a matter of heaven or hell. In Matthew 25 the great judgment scene is portrayed. There are to be those who are rewarded and those who are punished. One of the reasons why those who went to eternal bliss were so rewarded was because “I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (v:36). Yet, those who went to everlasting punishment were so judged because “ye visited me not” (v:43). Furthermore, if we want to stand “undefiled before God” at this judgment scene, we must “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27). Yes, visiting to render help is important!
Who, then, are we to visit? We are to visit those who are in physical need. At that judgment scene, we see that visits were expected to be made to the sick. Also, James 1:27 specified the orphans and widows (who had lost their source of physical support) were to be visited with aid. Thus, the Christian today has the responsibility (and the privilege) to visit with the intention of helping those who are in physical needs.
People in spiritual need are also to be visited in order to minister help. Alluding again to Luke 1:68, we see how God looked upon man in great spiritual need and visited with help by means of Jesus. In like manner, as we are to be like God (Col. 3:10), we too are to visit with the purpose of helping those in spiritual need.
Christians are also to make these helpful visits to those who are in emotional need. Turning to Matthew 25 once more, the sheep and the goats were separated on the basis of whether or not visits were made to those in prison. It is most likely that these were Christians who had been imprisoned because they were Christians (cf., Rev. 2:10). Surely such a person would be disturbed and at an emotional low. Thus, God would have us visit them, and, in principle, anyone who is hurting emotionally.
Our attitude in visiting must be that of tender mercy. This was the attitude of our heavenly Father as He helpfully visited us with Jesus (Luke 1:78), and, as His children who are to bear the image of our Father, so should be our attitude.
Yes, the Bible teaches that we are to visit with the purpose of helping physically, spiritually and emotionally from a tender caring heart. May we meditate upon these things so that we may be a helpful visitor.